The Rosary is a Marian prayer that is centered around Christ and is, as Pope John Paul II said, a compendium of the gospel. The Hail Mary (Ave Maria), which is the bulk of the Rosary, and the Hail Holy Queen (Salve Regina), which concludes the Rosary, set the prayer apart as Marian. But what makes it a compendium of the gospel? Or Christocentric?
Let me share with you, in a series of posts, how and why I pray the Rosary. I am only a beginner, and I am still struggling with praying and learning this wonderful devotion. Indeed, there are many of you out there who could teach me a great deal about the prayer, and I pray that you do.
In this first post, let me give a brief overview of how the Rosary is prayed. There are variations, of course, but in general it is prayed as follows.
We sign ourselves with the cross, beginning our prayers in the name of the Blessed Trinity.
We then recite the Apostles' Creed. This ancient creed is a summary of our faith, our baptismal creed, and all Christians accept it, though some play with the definitions of certain words.
The Our Father, or The Lord's Prayer, follows the creed.
Following the Our Father, we pray three Ave Marias. (We pray: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.") From my understanding, these three Ave Marias represent faith, hope, and love - that which makes us Christian.
The Glory Be follows. We pray: "Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
We then begin our five decades (sets of ten beads), which are true meditations on five mysteries. I'll explain in detail what these mysteries are later.
For now, let me give a brief example of the mysteries upon which we meditate. Today is Wednesday - the Glorious Mysteries. The first glorious mystery is the resurrection of our Lord. During the first decade (set of ten) of Ave Marias, we meditate on the resurrection of Christ.
So before each decade, we announce the mystery on which we'll be meditating - and this is where the "compendium of the gospel" truly gets rolling, as well as the Rosary being a Christocentric prayer - and begin with an Our Father.
It is important to remember that the Rosary is a prayer of meditation: As we pray, we meditate on five mysteries surrounding the life of Christ (revealing the Mystery, Christ).
So what makes you uncomfortable about praying the Rosary and why? Most of your questions and reservations, I have probably felt for myself. I plan to try to answer them in the subsequent posts, though I will be happy to have a conversation with you about your questions or objections at any time.
For more information: How to Pray the Rosary.